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Many individuals have experienced the disappointment of being rejected from a good job when the prospective employer learns of the applicant's prior arrest(s) and/or conviction(s). Successfully having your criminal record expunged can avoid this problem. Once a record is expunged under New Jersey law, the arrest(s) and conviction(s) are treated as if they never occurred. This process allows you to truthfully state on a job application or to a prospective employer that you have never been arrested or convicted of anything! After an expungement, if the police stop you and check your name, they will no longer find your past criminal charges/convictions. Until an expungement, that information will appear on a routine check. This is just one of the reasons why it is so important to have an experienced New Jersey expungement lawyer on your side.
Expungement is the legal way to do the following:
The New Jersey Revised Statutes define expungement as “the extraction and isolation of all records on file within any court, detention or correctional facility, law enforcement or criminal justice agency concerning a person’s detection, apprehension, arrest, detention, trial or disposition of an offense within the criminal justice system.” So, what does this mean, exactly? Let’s break it down:
In short, an expungement erases your criminal record. It gives you a clean slate. Once you hire a New Jersey expungement lawyer to get your criminal record expunged, it is as though the matters that were previously on your record never happened. This means that your criminal record will no longer be available (unless it can be found on the internet) to:
Note that the expungement is included on a special list accessible for very limited purposes such as applications for employment with law enforcement or the judiciary.
Crucially, once your record is expunged, you are also allowed to answer “no” when asked if you have ever been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense. No company should ask you to disclose your expunged criminal past—this is prohibited under New Jersey law with very few exceptions. Additionally, if anyone else reveals your criminal history, that person can be charged with a crime under Section 2C:52-30 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes.
In certain circumstances, you can have your criminal record expunged, which many people call "sealed." This makes it almost impossible for your criminal or arrest history to be found by any person or agency checking into your background. After expungement, your criminal record is unavailable, even to police agencies, in most circumstances.
The new laws allow someone to expunge either five disorderly persons’ convictions or one criminal and four disorderly person’s convictions. For disorderly person’s conviction, one normally can expunge the offense 5 years after probation is over and all fines have been paid. ‘Good cause’ allows someone to apply for expungement even earlier - after 3 years now. It is important to note any missed job opportunities and/or any other missed opportunities when applying for an expungement under good cause.
One criminal conviction in New Jersey (the equivalent of a felony in other states) can be expunged after six years after either probation or parole expires and after all fines are paid. For ‘good cause’, a conviction can be expunged after 5 years. It is important to note your missed job opportunities and other missed opportunities when applying for an expungement under the ‘good cause’ rule.
Multiple criminal convictions can be expunged after ten years if no intervening convictions
Individuals can expunge most dismissed cases almost immediately. After a dismissal of charges (not based on completing a diversionary program), expungement is almost instantly available. After a dismissal based on completion of a diversionary program (conditional discharge, conditional dismissal or pretrial intervention), one is eligible for an expungement 6 months later.
Anyone who can!
If you are eligible for an expungement and fail to obtain one, you are doing a huge disservice to yourself and the people who depend on you.
Criminal records have an ongoing impact on your life. Criminal records that are not expunged are public records and may prevent you from reaching your goal when people involved in decisions about your job application, scholarship, housing, admission to school, coaching, or loan request learn about your history. When an expungement/ sealing of the records takes place, those records are no longer available to the public.
So, you want to have your criminal records expunged — but are you eligible? While most criminal and juvenile charges are eligible for expungement in New Jersey, there are some exceptions. Also, certain offenses are not classified as “crimes” under New Jersey law, and as a result, they are not eligible for expungement. The Federal Bureau of Investigation will not expunge your record.
Rather than listing all of the crimes that are eligible for expungement, it is easier to identify the specific offenses that are ineligible. Offenses that are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey include:
Additionally, New Jersey courts can only expunge crimes charged under New Jersey law. If you have an out-of-state criminal record (or if you have a federal criminal record), you will need to talk to a New Jersey expungement lawyer about your available options.
But, even if you have one or more of these offenses on your criminal record, it may still be worth having other crimes expunged. For example, maybe you have a minor traffic offense on your record. Even though this won’t be erased with an expungement, if you can mostly clean up your record, this could still have life-changing consequences.
The time from filing an application for an expungement to getting a hearing on the application typically is a few months. As more individuals who realize how important an expungement is are filing for an expungement, the backlog of cases is increasing. Cases that used to take 2-3 months to resolve are frequently taking twice as long, or even longer than that. You should ask a New Jersey expungement lawyer to evaluate your situation and advise on the timing of when you can apply as early as possible.
Since immigration is handled by the federal government and the federal government will not expunge your criminal records, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman to determine whether it may be unwise to seek an expungement before you obtain citizenship.
Once you file for expungement, you want to make sure all government agencies that have records of your arrest, charge or conviction actually remove them from the public record. If they don’t, then your efforts to have your record expunged could all be for nothing. So, how do you make sure these agencies do what they are supposed to?
The “extraction and isolation” of your criminal record does not happen automatically. People need to do their jobs, and you need to make sure they do their jobs correctly. This is another important way that a New Jersey expungement attorney can help you. After the judge orders expungement of your record, your attorney can usually follow through to make sure the expungement actually happens.
Failing to include a complete history of your arrests/charges including juvenile charges, municipal court disorderly person’s charges, and other encounters with the law will result in a rejection of the expungement application. If that occurs, the entire process must be repeated. Therefore, it is helpful to have a New Jersey expungement lawyer review your entire criminal record and work with you on your expungement so that your application has a good chance of success.
Unlike the surrounding states, an arrest or conviction for driving under the influence in New Jersey is considered a traffic, not a criminal, offense and the records regarding a DUI are therefore maintained by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. Unfortunately, because a DUI is not a traffic offense, the records surrounding a DUI case cannot be expunged as set forth in Section 2C:52-28 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. This means that while an individual convicted of burglary or a more serious offense may be able to expunge their records, an individual who makes a single mistake by consuming alcohol at a family gathering and then driving under the influence is prevented from doing so.
Because expungement is not available to those convicted of a DUI, it is critical to speak to the team at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A immediately after an arrest so that they can minimize or eliminate all of the potential consequences and keep your driving record as clear as possible.
While expungement is not available for those individuals who are arrested or convicted of DUI, a skilled New Jersey DUI defense lawyer may, in limited circumstances, recommend the filing of post-conviction relief. Such a petition seeks to reopen a prior DUI case by alleging that the defense attorney made serious errors or that the Judge or prosecutor committed an error. These requests for relief are rarely granted, but in some cases, it may be possible to obtain the entry of an order confirming that a prior conviction will not be used to enhance the penalties in a subsequent case as a result of the error that occurred.
Our attorneys are dedicated to helping clients like you clear their name. Call us today at 1-877-Helmer1 to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal options with an experienced expungement attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. You can also contact us online. We have locations throughout New Jersey and offer payment plans for your convenience.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.